It had been an ordinary night for me. My sorority sisters and I had just finished attending an event and were starving. Instead of going home to eat, we all decided to go grab a late dinner and just hang out. We were headed to the restaurant when my phone lit up. I wasn’t thinking anything of it. I just assumed it was one of the girls texting me about the restaurant we had decided on or something along those lines. But when I saw the name of the sender, it shocked me. I hadn’t talked to this guy in almost two years.

For his privacy and mine, he will remain nameless.

But you know how guys can be! They see you post a cute picture on any social media platform and they think it’s a hand delivered invitation for them to reach out to you. To be honest, that’s all I thought it was going to be. A lame message. Nothing more. But he had different ideas as to how this was going to play out.

The text message was straight up, no filter. He wanted to take me on a date that night. Specifically, a movie, because that was our first “date” back in the day. At the time, I was single and mingling, but not really wanting anything more than that. I was definitely into trying out different things back then. So I really had no reason not to go besides the fact that I didn’t want to. Instead of being blunt, I used the excuse that I had orientation for my second job the next morning, maybe another time. After that, the text messages had stopped and I really thought I wouldn’t hear from him again.

I hadn’t been completely lying about orientation for a new job the next day. I did in fact have orientation it just wasn’t as early in the morning as I had exaggerated. We had just been released for an hour lunch break. Naturally, the first thing I did was check my phone. I was completely shocked to see ten text messages from the same guy who texted me the night before. The texts contained movies times for that night. He didn’t ask if that night was good for me. He was almost telling me I was going. I just had the choice of when and what movie. Now, I was not only hungry, but highly irritated. Not a good combination. Again, I rejected his advance. I informed him school was my main priority at the time and had an overload of course work that needed to get done. I didn’t have the time. For the second time within forty-eight hours he retreated and stopped texting me. I figured that denying him twice in such a short time should have been enough for him to get the hint.

As much as I’d like to end this here, and say this was my experience when it comes to harassment, I can’t. It was only the beginning.

For the next three weeks, I was harassed and stalked; virtually and in real life. My eating was disrupted, I constantly had a headache due to lack of sleep, and was always looking over my shoulder. I was scared to live my life.

Beyond those side effects, the text messages had started again. When I woke up in the morning, there would be a text from him. Throughout the day he’d text me about how he knew he was the one for me. And at night, he’d always tell me “sweet dreams” with some sort of endearing nickname at the end. His favorite one: angel.

I thought the text messages were as bad as it could possibly get. Until he followed me on Twitter. His tweets were so much worse, and much more detailed. He @mentioned me as if we were in a committed relationship. Tweeting song lyrics, bible verses, and his proclamations of love for me and tag me in them. I was horrified. We had mutual friends. People were replying congratulating him on our relationship. He believed we were in some sort of relationship.

Not only had he continued texting me nonstop without getting a response, he started texting my mother as well. At the time he had texted her, she was not aware of the situation I had been already dealing with. She was confused. She had so many questions for me. Had I been dating him and not telling her? Why was he saying he knows I was made for him? And we would end up getting married? There was no way I could have come up with a story to not get her concerned so I told her everything. She had heard enough and she replied to his message with directions to leave me alone, I was not interested. I had a boyfriend (a little white lie). And to please respect her wishes. He responded apologetically, and promised he’d stop.

However, none of it stopped. It just escalated.

I walked into work like every other day. I put down my bag, clocked in, and went to check where I was scheduled that day. Then one of my supervisors, who knew this guy, told me he had been there all morning, waiting for me. My stomach dropped. He had been there waiting for me. I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t know his intentions, but this had to stop. I explained to my supervisors what was going on. I was escorted to campus police.

The police station was cold and empty. I didn’t feel any safer there than I did at my workplace. I was left alone for at least twenty minutes before a police officer sat down with me. He asked if I could explain for him what was going on. After telling him everything, showing him the text messages and the screenshots of tweets, he asked me if I had ever been romantically involved with this man. I told him, yes, but in the past. His demeanor hadn’t been too great to begin with, but after that he became a lot more relaxed about the situation. He implied that I had some how led this man to believe I wanted a relationship. Because of the fact we had dated before and that I had also kissed him before. He was trying to brush all this under the rug. This was all my fault, and I needed to let it go or just agree to go out with the guy. I sat there feeling completely helpless. I was supposed to feel safe because of this visit, not helpless. I didn’t know what to do.

I couldn’t keep the tears from coming. I just sat there dumbfounded, and just asked what I could legally do to keep him away from me. I was full on bawling at this point, like the whole ugly crying face and everything. He asked for the phone number of this guy and called him. I sat there as I listened to the police officer tell him what my harasser was going to do. He informed him that he was to stop connecting me immediately, stop posting about me on Twitter (as it’s defamation), and he was to not step foot on campus. If he chose not to listen to his directions, the police officer would have no problem driving to his house and arresting him for harassment and stalking. Shortly after that, he was off the phone. He gave me his card with his number at the station, as well as his personal cell so I could text him if I ever felt unsafe again.

Though my experience with harassment may seem small, try having your world rocked because an individual thinks they are in control of your life. If you or any one you know is dealing with harassment or a stalker please inform yourself about steps to protect yourself.

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